Carolyn Pepper Named UWs Top Graduate Mentor

August 5, 2013
Carolyn Pepper

The University of Wyoming Graduate Council has selected Psychology Professor Carolyn Pepper as the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor award.

During her 10 years at UW, Pepper has amassed an impressive record as a mentor by fostering the research skills of her students and helping them establish a strong publication record.

One glance at Pepper's vita confirms that she not only involves her students in the research process, but lets them take the lead. Nearly every paper she published in the last eight years has included a graduate student as author, and most of them count students as the first author.

“Her students are consistently successful in finding internship placement and eventual employment at the most prestigious and competitive institutions,” wrote Sean McCrea, an assistant professor in the UW Department of Psychology.  “Behind these impersonal statistics lies the heart of successful mentorship: the individual attention, encouragement, and feedback that students need to develop their skills and gain confidence as they progress through the program.”

Her current and former students attest to the support that she provides to develop their own interests, rather than asking them to merely carry out her own projects. They note that she pushes students to think on their own, and that she also provides them the guidance they need to be successful. Students comment on the personal support and friendship that she offered to them.

“I know that I am not alone among Carolyn’s students to be deeply touched and greatly supported by her constant efforts as a mentor," wrote doctoral degree candidate Tatyana Kholodkov. “Carolyn has fostered an environment of collegial warmth, one in which we as students feel the inspiration and potential to grow.”

Such praise is echoed by former students, including Jason Nieuwsma, an assistant professor at Duke University Medical School and associate director for the Department of Veterans Affairs national Mental Health and Chaplaincy Program.

“She viewed me as a unique individual and tailored her approach to mentorship accordingly,” Nieuwsma wrote. “Graduate school is a time of substantial intellectual and professional development, and Dr. Pepper has a keen ability to identify the evolving needs, capabilities, ambitions and developmental stages of her graduate students in a manner that treats them as distinct individuals and optimizes their potential.”

Pepper came to UW in 2002 after serving on the faculty at State University of New York at Binghampton. She directed the UW Psychology Clinic from 2003-2007, and has been chair of the Department of Psychology since 2007.

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